YAKIMA, Wash. – Last season, Shelby Thompson’s race car came up less than a half-mile short of winning the Tri-Track Super Late Model Series Apple Cup at Yakima Speedway as he ran out of fuel whihc handed the win to Pete Harding. A year later Thompson made sure his Western Rail Chevrolet team packed plenty into the tank for the second 100 laps of competition during Sunday’s midway break for the main event.
It paid off as Thompson was not denied by fuel mileage, a lost throttle bolt (something that relegated him to an 18th place starting position based on a poor finish in his qualifying heat) or the hard-charging duo of J.C. Wofford and Tayler Riddle who came up just short in challenging for the historic Apple Cup victory.
Thompson took the lead from Riddle on lap 97 and never looked back despite the efforts of not only Wofford and Riddle but also Shane Harding and Owen Riddle during the race’s three-quarter mark.
Tayler Riddle got things started during Saturday’s qualifying as he set fast time that earned him a pole in his positioning heat. Riddle breezed to the victory and established himself as one of two drivers who would be part of Sunday’s main event front row. Thompson looked to be on his way to winning his heat race, but the pesky bolt failure dropped him from the point as he pitted, handing the lead to Owen Riddle. Wofford came on strong in the late going of the heat race to grab the win, which gave the Wapato native the outside of the front row for the Apple Cup finale.
With a full house on hand the 22-car field took the green flag for the 49th Annual Apple Cup and ran a fairly uneventful first-half. Tayler Riddle jumped to the lead, kept Kelly Mann, Harding, Wofford and a few others at bay while leading the entire first segment of the race. Thompson marched through the field from near the tail-end and showed he would be a factor in the second-half.
On lap 96 Clint Habart spun exiting turn No. 4 resulting in TTSLMS officials establishing the halfway break a handful of laps prior to the race’s true midway point. During the break all of the front runners had confidence in a continued steady pace that would set-up an exciting finish for race teams and fans alike.
The restart would bring about a different scenario.
Riddle and Wofford brought the field to the green flag and raced down the backstretch battling for the point. Wofford dropped the left-side of his Ford Fusion below the apron and off the track as he tried to establish position over Riddle entering turn No. 3. With his car bouncing in the rumble strips Wofford avoid spinning out, but contact with Riddle sent the leader’s car spinning to the outside of the turn. Riddle was able to keep his car from receiving major damage and rejoined the field. Officials ruled the race had not completed a green flag lap and restarted the second-half with Riddle and Wofford again on the front row.
The restart had a tighter pack behind the leaders with Thompson hooked to Riddle’s back bumper pushing the pair past Wofford entering the back stretch. The gap also allowed Owen Riddle and Harding to move to third and fourth place respectively with Wofford relegated to fifth place. From lap 100 to lap 150 Wofford worked by Harding and Riddle with his sights set on the top two positions.
Over the race’s final 50 laps Wofford was able to clear Tayler Riddle for second place but never got closer than .20-seconds of Thompson’s lead in the late stages. Thompson cleared lapped traffic effectively to build a one-second lead in the final laps of the race as he sailed to his first Tri-Track Super Late Model Series victory at Yakima Speedway.
49th ANNUAL APPLE CUP QUOTES & NOTES
Winner: No. 20 Shelby Thompson
“We worked so hard last year to win a race. After the (fuel) deal last year getting back here, running strong and getting a win in the Apple Cup is very special. I knew J.C. was trying to catch me but we saved the tires and when it came time to go it all worked out for us to get the win. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that Todd Havens and this team have given me to race this car. We won a race last year, ran well in the Fall Classic and Todd said we’d be back here to run this Apple Cup. I’m glad we came and he gave us a chance to put together a car and team that won this.”
2nd Place: No. 100 J.C. Wofford
“I race hard and there was an opening there on the inside but I certainly didn’t mean to send (Tayler Riddle) off the track and I’m glad he was able to get back going and keep racing. We gave it all we had but over the last 30 laps Shelby was strong. He’s a good guy and deserved the win.”
3rd Place: No. 15 Tayler Riddle
“We were real patient there in the first-half of the race. (The incident with Wofford) is a tough deal because we had a good car and felt like we could have a good chance at this one. To get a third-place finish is great with such a tough field of drivers and I’m proud of this team’s efforts.”
• Defending Apple Cup champion, Pete Harding, was sidelined this weekend as he had knee surgery on Friday. He is expected to compete with the series when it returns to Yakima Speedway for October’s Fall Classic.
• Victoria’s Wade Bland makes the trek from his hometrack of Western Speedway to Yakima and in doing so is often the only driver having to take an auto ferry to get to the United States. That was the case this weekend as Bland made his first start of the season a good one with a top-10 finish. Fellow Canadian, Clint Habart, posted an Apple Cup career-best finish of 7th on Sunday.
• Thompson has won two of the last three TTSLMS events dating back to last season. Only Cameron Hayley has broken the streak with last year’s win in the Yakima Speedway Fall Classic, a race that Thompson scored a runner-up finish.
• Wofford, the reigning Oregon 200 champion, debuted a brand new LFR chassis at the Apple Cup, giving the company a top-3 finish in its first Yakima Speedway effort.
• Parker Stephens, son of NASCAR star Dirk Stephens, made his Apple Cup debut a success with a top-5 finish. It was younger Stephens first attempt at racing late model stock cars at Yakima Speedway, a track his crew chief, Travis Bennett, has multiple Apple Cup victories at in the last 10 years.
• Past Yakima Speedway late model champion, Scott Walker, made the most of his return to his home track with a sixth-place effort. Walker, who had taken some time off then return to racing in the INEX Legends, will race more late model events this season out of the Kustom Fab race shops.
-Tri-Track Super Late Model Series Press Release. Photo credit: MEWRIGHT Photography
TRI-TRACK SUPER LATE MODEL SERIES OFFICIAL RESULTS
49th Annual Apple Cup presented by Columbia Asphalt
Yakima Speedway .500-mile
Finishing position/Car No./Name/Hometown/Laps completed
1) 20 Shelby Thompson Spokane, Wash. 200
2) 100 JC Wofford Wapato, Wash. 200
3) 15 Tayler Riddle Naches, Wash. 200
4) 64 Garrett Evans E. Wenatchee, Wash. 200
5) 4 Parker Stephens Tumwater, Wash. 200
6) 34 Scott Walker Prosser, Wash. 199
7) 09 Clint Habart Cranbrook, BC 199
8) 07 Wade Bland Victoria, BC 197
9) 83 Braeden Havens Spokane, Wash. 197
10) 89 Donny Wanat Woodinville, Wash. 197
11) 20 Andy Sole Cle Elum, Wash. 197
12) 1 Mitch Kleyn Quincy, Wash. 196
13) 51 Glenn Knutson Quincy, Wash. 191
14) 40 Rick Suran Estacada, Ore. 155
15) 10 Owen Riddle Naches, Wash. 147
16) 29 Shane Harding Surrey, BC 142
17) 53 Alex Lessor Kalispell, Mont. 140
18) 99 Shane Mitchell E. Wenatchee, Wash. 70
19) 9 Kelly Mann Monroe, Wash. 57
20) 12 Rick Gerard Hermiston, Ore. 41
21) 37 Mike Longton Moxee, Wash. 32
22) 40 Jason Ogle Bothell, Wash. 14
DNS- No. 12 Dan Obrist Portland Ore.
Lap Leaders: T. Riddle 1-96, Thompson 97-200
Margin of Victory: 1.364-sec.
Time of Race: 1 hour 33 minutes 11 seconds
Race Contingency Awards-
Fast Time- No. 15 Tayler Riddle 18.743-sec. ($100 bonus awarded)
JOES Racing Products Hard Charger- No. 20 Shelby Thompson (advanced from 17th to 1st place)
Longacre Racing Products Long Haul Award- No. 53 Alex Lessor (traveled approximately 880 miles round-trip from Kalispell, Mont. to Yakima)